“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Eminently quotable, Emerson was the first American to advocate for Americans to develop a writing style of their own; to create “American” writing and not just copy that of their forebears from other parts of the world.
I find it interesting that he was born this day in 1803, almost simultaneously with the commissioning of Lewis and Clark's great expedition into the Louisiana Purchase. Thus, as the Corps of Discovery was created to open American frontiers, this great writer and thinker was born to a similar pathway – only toward discovery of the written word.
Emerson was one of the first writers to keep journals, influencing his great friend Henry David Thoreau to do the same. Emerson’s lifelong extensive journals and notes, ultimately, were published in 16 volumes by Harvard University Press and are considered to be his key literary works – even though that was not his intent. “I just wanted to maintain a record of the things that were important to my life,” he wrote. As it turned out, they are things that have influenced generations of writers both in their content and the practice of journaling itself.
A teacher as well as writer and scholar, he was a staunch supporter of education for girls and women and helped found a Massachusetts school for girls. And, from the mid-1840s on, he was a national leader of the abolitionist movement. Known for his kindness and support of others, he said simply, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
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